COOCAFE exports roast and ground coffees to Fairtrade, organic and specialty coffee markets in the USA and Japan. The profits are invested in education and environmental programs.
COOCAFE’s full name is El Consorcio de Cooperativas Cafetaleras de Guanacaste y Montes de Oro R.L. It supports diversification into alternative income sources to increase members’ incomes, reduce dependency on coffee, and create employment. Projects include the manufacture and export of yucca and plantain chips; macadamia nut production; fish farming (tilapia); ecotourism; establishing a cafeteria and local supermarkets.
COOCAFE and its member cooperatives have established two foundations: Hijos del Campo (Children of the Fields) Foundation provides hundreds of school and university scholarships for promising students; Café Forestal Foundation supports socio-economic and environmental development projects such as reforestation and water recycling.
COOCAFE owns its warehouse, coffee processing factory and coffee roasting plant, making the group of co-operatives vertically integrated from seed purchase to the export of bagged coffee. It exports roast and ground coffees to Fairtrade, organic and specialty coffee markets in the USA and Japan, the profits of which are invested in its education and environmental programs.
COOCAFE has been Fairtrade certified since 1989 and in 2010 sold around 1,100 tons to Fairtrade buyers. For these sales it receives the Fairtrade Minimum Price of 140 cents/lb, or the market price if higher. It also receives the Fairtrade Premium of 20 cents/lb to invest in business development and community or environmental programs. The Fairtrade premium has been invested in a wide variety of projects. They include:
Environmental and agricultural projects:
- Employing technicians to provide technical assistance and organize agricultural workshops.
- Replacement of ageing coffee trees.
- Intercropping and shade tree production programs.
- Reforestation of 5,000 hectares.
- Renovation of processing plants and conversion to clean technology.
- New water treatment system in processing plants has reduced water use from 2,000-3,000 liters per 225 kg of coffee to 200 liters.
- Training in the appropriate management of solid waste.
Business and social projects:
- Business development and quality control programs.
- Road and bridge repairs – hurricanes regularly bring down bridges and cause mud slides that block roads. This is widespread and beyond government resources, so local co-ops repair the damage for the benefit of all residents and to enable farmers to transport their crop to the processing plant.
- Secondary school and university scholarships for farmers’ children.
- Providing computers, other school equipment and teaching materials to rural schools.
- Repair, improvement and maintenance of school buildings.
- Ongoing support to training courses provided by the government’s National Institute of Learning for income-generating schemes for women and to reduce dependence on coffee – cultivating ornamental plants and flowers; chicken farming and egg production; sales of handicrafts in their own shop.
- Development of eco-tourism.
Originally posted at www.fairtrade.org.uk.